I friggen love mangoes. Especially in the summer I hoard them in the fridge and eat them for dessert or when it’s super hot out. They’re refreshing, sour, sweet, and the only qualm I have with them is that they get stuck in your teeth.
Of course, I live in Maine, which is shockingly not the mango capital of the world. However, in my time traveling in Southeast Asia I had some of the most incredible smoothies, fresh mangoes and a spicy mango jam on toast for breakfast. They’re SO GOOD! So this recipe is partially inspired by my time in Asia and those incredible mango dishes.
I knew I wanted to pair the mango with something spicy and deep and rich in flavor, so I had to make some sort of ginger cake, one of my favorite things to eat/make. I have been obsessed with Australian food and cooking since I was really young and am addicted to Masterchef Australia (the best show on TV) and I realized I had always wanted to try this dessert called a “Lamington.” A lamington is traditionally a vanilla sponge cake covered in melted chocolate and coconut flakes. I didn’t indulge my chocolate obsession for this one, but the idea fit perfectly with my mango theme.
So the dish has flavors of tart mango, spicy ginger, coconut, chiles and reminds me so much of southeast Asian flavors and looks like a delicious and hearty Australian classic, amped up a little bit for the sake of the blog!
Here we go!
To make the ginger cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup melted butter
¾ cup packed sugar
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix your flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to combine.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, fresh ginger and egg yolks. This is a really rich and spicy cake, a little more spicy than a typical dessert, but I promise the fresh ginger plus all the spices makes a delicious combo.
With your 2 separate egg whites, place them in the bowl of a stand mixer that is very very clean and dry, and make sure there is no trace of yolk in the whites (or else it won’t whip). Whip them up on high speed until they stand up on their own! Don’t overthink this, just make sure it’s not watery (under whipped) and not split (over). Set those aside for a minute while you finish the rest of the batter.
So at this point you will have one bowl with the dry ingredients, one bowl with the wet ingredients, and one bowl with the egg whites, so keep clean and organized. And get ready for one more 🙂
For the next step you want a heat proof container, like a pyrex measuring cup. This step is the second part of the wet ingredients and brings the sweet, sticky, deep flavor of molasses. The texture of molasses is really gross and annoying, so the next steps are important:
First you want to get a kettle of water boiling, so start now so it’s ready in a few minutes. Take your heat proof glass and coat it with non-stick spray to make it easier to get the molasses out of the bottom. It helps a lot! Next, add your molasses and baking soda. No need to mix yet, because we’re going to add boiling water.
When the water is really friggen hot, don’t burn yourself, and measure out 1/2 cup (in another heat proof containers- yes, so many containers! AH!). Now, get ready with a whisk and one hand with a potholder on the handle of the molasses-filled pyrex.
Quickly but carefully add your hot water and whisk until the pressure of the thick molasses fades away and you’re left with a brown watery mess. This is such a weird substance to make in any other circumstance, but it’s absolutely perfect for making the ginger cake super moist and rich.
Now all the hard steps are done, so we just have to combine everything to make a sponge cake batter.
First incorporate the molasses mix into the egg/butter/sugar/ginger mix to make one wet mixture. Now, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in stages of 2-3 until you have one fairly wet batter. Finally, incorporate the beaten egg whites into the cake mixture slowly being careful not to deflate too much of the egg white until you have a smooth batter. No lumps, no stripes, no problems.
Grease an 8 x 8 inch square cake tin and pour in enough of your batter to fill the pan half way. If for some reason you have a lot of extra batter, you can make two batches, just don’t overfill the pan or the batter will rise and overflow and your oven will be pissed.
Bake at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. This is really tricky because oven temperatures vary so much that it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact amount of time to cook. Just make sure the top springs back a little, a toothpick comes out clean, and the edges have come off the pan a little. Mine was a TAD bit undercooked, and I also got really excited and took mine out of the pan before it was totally cooled. DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO, and don’t do it until it’s cool. You can do the next few things with our star ingredient while you’re waiting. Have fun trying not to eat some over the next hour.
Let’s get to the mango, shall we! It is why we’re all here. I made two different mango substances for this recipe, one spicy mango jam and one mango sorbet. Let’s start with the sorbet because it needs lots of freezing time.
For the mango sorbet:
2 ripe mangoes
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tbs lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 tbs heavy cream
Start by cutting up 2 ripe mangoes. Mangoes are tricky to dissect because they have a large, almost invisible pit, so you kind of have to start by just cutting bits off the sides. Keep cutting slices closer and closer to the center until you hit the pit. I like to take the skin off the pieces after because you can just press them out flat and use your knife flat to cut the flesh off, much like how you would filet a fish. But do whatever makes sense to you- just don’t include and skin or pit.
When you have a nice pile of mango ready to go, pop it into the freezer for as long as possible, at least 1 hour I’d say. While it’s chilling, you can either move onto the mango jam or wait for it to freeze.
When the mango is frozen put it into a food processor or blender. Add the lime juice, lemon juice, salt and cream. Blitz it up until the mix comes together and holds together, like a very loose sorbet-ish sauce. Then take the sorbet mix back into the chilled bowl and put it back in the freezer. The tricky part here is that you need to keep whisking every 30-40 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t form into an icy block. I sadly don’t have an ice-cream maker or else this would be really straight-forward, but I promise the old fashioned tedious freezer method works just as well!
It’ll go from this to this! A nice smooth, beautiful yellow, tart and refreshing mango sorbet. Keep it in the freezer until you are ready, and don’t forget to stir frequently!
Next, let’s make the mango jam:
For the mango jam:
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs chopped chiles
1 tbs fresh grated ginger
First we need to go through the arduous process of getting the meat out of two mangoes- BUT- I have good news! You don’t need to worry about the pit or skins this time because we will strain them out of the jam later. Just try to get most of the meat off.
In a medium saucepan combine the 2 mangoes and a cup of water. On medium heat, cook down the mango and water into a thick sauce- it will take a good 30 minutes to reduce well and to get syrupy. If the water evaporates too fast, keep adding more to keep it a sauce and to prevent burning.
When it’s done, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the pits and skins. The mango should be cooked and soft enough to easily push through while the rest stays behind.
Add the salt, chiles, and ginger to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Cook until the chiles and ginger start to caramelize and soften and add the mango. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl.
Place this to set in the fridge for an hour or two until the pectin in the fruit makes it set and become even more jam-like and delicious. When you’re jam is ready and set, let’s get on to assembling the lamingtons!
First you want to take your 8 x 8 ginger sponge cake (that you can finally take out of the pan and snack on the crumbs- woohoo!) and cut it up. To cut it you want to first cut the cake in half height-wise, like you are making a layer cake. There are many different methods to make this work- a spinning cake stand, dental floss, dowels, etc. but I find going slow and just using a knife works fine. Make an incision about an inch into the cake exactly halfway down one side. Repeat on all sides, and then cut further into the cake, following your marks, until the top comes off.
Next, place the top back on the bottom to make this easier. Cut the cake into 16 4 x 4 pieces, or however you want to size them. I tried to make consistent, small square shapes, but don’t worry, no one is perfect.
Take some of your mango jam and spread it onto the bottom layers of the lamingtons, and place the tops back on. You may have some leakage at the sides but we are going to cover them in the jam anyway so it’s all good. When you have all of your lamingtons filled but still naked, place them in the fridge to set a little.
Next we’re going to roll them in the jam and cover on all sides, and then roll in coconut flakes! After you are done, wash your hands (this is messy) and set them in the fridge a bit more.
Our last step is to make a coconut meringue. This is optional- the lamingtons with the sorbet are fantastic on their own, but I think that this adds a nice sweet and smokey flavor to the dish.
For the coconut meringue:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut (toasted)
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy but nowhere near stiff (about 2 minutes). Continue the whisking but start gradually adding the sugar until the mixture gets white, glossy and stands up on its own (about 4-5 minutes). When you are done with the meringue, add in your toasted coconut flakes.
Assemble the dish however you want- use your creative freedom! I just placed my lamingtons into a nice pile with two quenelles of mango sorbet and I dotted the plate with the coconut meringue, burning it slightly with my kitchen torch.
You should be able to eat the dessert with a spoon- the cake should be soft and spongy with a deep, rich sweet flavor, complimented by the spicy mango jam and the coconut. The sorbet is a dose of fresh tartness and the meringue is super toasty and warm like a burnt marshmallow.
Any Australians out there, this is for you! And if you like mangoes as much as I do, this will definitely hit the spot.